Saturday, October 27, 2007

People vs. Positions

Org. charts are nice to do.

Like many similar management tools they are neat, structured and looked pretty in Powerpoints. But also like most other management tools, they are only as useful as the names that appear in the boxes.

I'm a great believer in putting people before positions. You cannot really define a job until you know the person who will be filling it. This becomes a bit of a catch-22. How do you look for people if you don't know what you want them to do ? And how do you make people do what appears on the org chart if they turn out to be better at something else ?

The problem really becomes more pronounced as you go higher up the hierarchy and jobs become more complex. Because at these levels the job often involves redefining the boundaries of the business itself. And how it get redefined and structured will depend on the capabilities of whoever you put in this role.

So you have to tread carefully. Obviously one has to start somewhere as one looks for people to fill a role -but as you find the right people for those roles and determine their capabilities, don't be afraid of tearing up that chart and redefining the structure around these capabilities.

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